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Latin American & Iberian Studies Subject Guide

What are social revolutions?

Photograph of the leaders of the Mexican revolution (1911)When we think about revolutions in the context of history and the social sciences, we are referring to what the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as: "a sudden, radical, or complete change" in the social, political, or economic order of society. Revolutions can happen through armed struggles, think about the American Revolution or the Mexican Revolution, or through rapid changes in technology and societal value, such as the Industrial Revolution. This page focus on how to study revolutions in the context of the history of Latin America by showing you where to find primary sources (both in English and Spanish).


Revolutions can be studied from various perspectives, from the sociopolitical and economic impact on society to their impact on the arts (music, paintings, films, etc.). Consider that as you explore the different primary sources available on this page!

Photo caption: President Francisco I. Madero with his political and military staff, after the First Battle of Juarez. Source: How Peace Came to Mexico, Service Bulletin of the Associated Press, November 1, 1911.

Primary Sources

The databases below offer access to a wide variety of primary sources from various countries in Latin America. 


You can search for a wide variety of revolutions, such as:

  • La revolucion mexicana
  • La insurrectiones de Sendero Luminoso en Peru
  • La revolucion sandinista en Nicaragua
  • etc.
The Mexican Revolution (1910-1917) is still the most influential event in the history of Mexico. Below are a variety of primary sources' sites that focus on this event.
The Tupac Amaru indigenous insurrection was one of the most significant events in Colonial Peru back in the 1780s. Most primary resources are in Spanish and accessible online.
Narra la independencia desde tu pueblo is a portal that offers primary sources, in Spanish, that document the history and trajectory of independence in Peru. One of the most significant events on that road to independence was the insurrection by Tupac Amaru, who not only instigated the most significant indigenous revolt in all the Americas, but also inspired criollos to struggle later on against the Spanish regime. Below are the links to the primary sources that document this historic event.
Sendero Luminoso/Shining Path's insurrection occurred in the late 20th century, and it is considered one of the bloodiest events in the history of Peru. See below for some primary sources' resources.
Revolutions have a way of inspiring people; one way to study their impact is through the arts. Here is a selection of sites that showcase how revolutions inspired writers, musicians, and artists!